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8.1 L Starter Problems

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Only 3 out of 1400 sold in NA have starter problems?

Bought a 2001 K3500 Crew, 8.1L, Allison tranny in Dec 2001. Have 9000 miles on it. The starter barely turns the engine over and often will only start the engine on second attempt. Had it checked out by the dealer. The truck is on the third starter now. GM doesn't have a fix for this.  Cold starts are fine. The truck starts immediately after the engine is turned off, but 5 minutes later the problem begins. This hard starting problem happens every time I pull in to fill up. By the time I'm done filling up the engine barely turns over. I did not get stranded yet, but the uncertainty is starting to drive me crazy. The coolant temperature and the transmission oil temperature are normal (at or below 100°C). This problem doesn't seem to be related to driving with a load. Even an easy going 20 mile ride to a dealership (max 50mph) will cause hard starting 5 minutes after the engine was turned off.

Other than that I love the truck. It drives effortlessly with or without a load.

I did notice a slight vibration at 2100 rpm in each gear. This vibration seem to be related to higher oil consumption (1 qt per 1000 miles).  If I stay away from the 2100 engine rpm the oil consumption is barely noticeable. Can anyone suggest where this vibration comes from?


PS. I had the heatsoak starter problem fixed. I installed a heatshield around the solenoid and the starter.

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You've got a brain teaser for sure.


The "normal" reasons a starter is slow in tuning over are:

1. Low battery charge.

2. Relay or solenoid contacts burned or dirty.

3. Poor ground or electrical connection

4. Heat soak


The fact that the longer you wait the slower it turns could be due to "heat soak".  This means that the heat from the exhaust and or engine is being absorbed by the starter thereby reducing it's effectiveness.  You dealer should be aware of this sort of problem.


Have you installed headers?  They often cause this sort of problem.


You might try attaching a shield or wrapping the starter in protective insulation to protect it from the heat.


These guys might be able to help.

Heat shield


Happy motoring!  :thumb:

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